A man is facing felony theft charges in Washington County after he purportedly convinced an elderly woman into selling her gold jewelry for far less than its market value, according to investigators.
The Washington County Sheriff's Office said it set up a sting operation involving a 90-year-old resident of unincorporated Washington County, north of Beaverton, that ensnared 57-year-old Ronald Bocca of Otis.
Bocca and his intended victim originally met on July 25, after she responded to a classified ad in a local newspaper, the Sheriff's Office said.
The ad stated: "I want jewelry. Costume etc, also pre-80's glassware and misc." It appeared in "numerous" area newspapers, according to Sgt. Danny DiPietro, a spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff's Office.
Upon meeting the victim at her home, Bocca allegedly "tested" her gold jewelry and told her it was fake. When she presented him with receipts for the jewelry, he allegedly claimed jewelry stores often trick customers by swapping authentic gold items with fake gold items before finalizing the sale.
Investigators looking into Bocca contacted the victim and made arrangements with her to attempt to sell more jewelry to Bocca. When they met at the victim's residence on Oct. 24, Bocca again tried to persuade her that her jewelry was fake and worth far less than their value, which detectives had already appraised at more than $3,000, according to the Sheriff's Office.
Bocca and the woman agreed on a sale price of $175, the Sheriff's Office said. Shortly after Bocca left with the jewelry, however, he was stopped by deputies and arrested on two counts of theft by deception, a felony.
The victim's jewelry was recovered from Bocca's vehicle, but that wasn't the only thing investigators found, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"There was a lot more jewelry in that car," DiPietro said. "Just tons of jewelry, receipts, things along those lines that tell us the exact same thing he had just done to our victim, he was probably doing to somebody else."
Bocca lives in Otis, near Lincoln City, but has ties to the Portland area, DiPietro said.
Investigators believe Bocca targeted the elderly population by placing classified ads in newspapers. Those papers include weeklies published by the Pamplin Media Group.
The Sheriff's Office is searching for additional victims. Anyone with more information is asked to contact investigators at 503-846-2700.
By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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